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January 19th, 2011

01/19 - 12:00PM EST

  So we got all kinds of crazy announcements from Square-Enix yesterday, everything from Final Fantasy XIII-2 being confirmed, to a new name for Agito, Final Fantasy Type-0 (which will be on two umds!). I'd love to hear everyone's thoughts on these announcements (yes even if you hate Final Fantasy XIII). Anyway, to the letter-mobile!

The Letters
Dear Not Wheels

(If this letter doesn't make sense, see the special reader column from last month )

Dear Hito,

Your Hot Topics are so awesome, I'm gonna address them all right now.

1. Wheels never talks about things that aren't JRPGs. Send more questions in about western RPGs!
You're completely right, but I think there's a legitimate reason for the discrepancy.  JRPGs and WRPGs are so completely different that I don't really even consider them to be in the same genre.  Play an Elder Scrolls and Final Fantasy Game back to back to see what I mean. 


First of all dude, the reader column was a one time thing! I'm back now. I'll answer these crazy hot topics anyway. I do talk about Western RPGs, it's just that I answer what the readers demand send in, and it just so happens that more of the questions have been about JRPGs. I mean I do love me some Mass Effect and Fallout.

2. Can we get through a column without mentioning Tales? Doh, I just ruined it, didn't I?
We can't and you did.  The Tales game I played (Symphonia) wasn't bad or anything, but I don't understand the fanatical devotion so many seem to have for the franchise.  Especially considering that looking back, I can on barely remember either the characters or the plot.

It was something about Radworld and Suckworld right?  And a really huge tree, and one dude's dad was immortal or something.  I could look it up on Wikipedia or TVtropes or whatever and refresh my memory, but honestly, I think I can label it as an example of horrible writing in video games without doing so.  A good story should leave some sort of impression on you, and clearly this game didn't.


See, I have an issue with people using TVtropes as a basis to complain about games. I mean, you can break just about any story, not just video games, but any story into a bunch of rehashed ideas. It's all about the execution. I'm not going to say to say that the Tales series is amazing story wise or anything, but what the games do best is provide fun characters in plots that are generally interesting. Your like/dislike of anime may alter opinions of the series given how closely it sticks to the usual anime formulas. I guess not being a fan of anime shows, all the typical anime nonsense is still fresh to me?

3. JRPGs are not currently more creative than WRPGs
Thank you.  Finally someone said it.  JRPGs are among the most completely uncreative games on the market.


OK, seriously people completely missed the original point of my hot topic on this. I was trying to create a discussion about how Western RPGs get story and depth correct, but seem to stick too closely to classic PC ideals when it comes to combat. We all know the issues Japanese RPGs sometimes face with linearity, and cliched story, but what they often get right is fantastic creativity in the actual game mechanics. So what I'm trying to say is I want Mass Effect with Resonance of Fate's battle system or something...

4.  Really, compare Final Fantasy to fruit? Who comes up with this stuff?
Dude that was brilliant.  You're crazy man.  You're stone cold crazy.


Really that was fantastic. Not that I agree with the fruit picks that were used, but it was still absolutely brilliant. No really though, why the Crystal Chronicles hate? I thought the first game was well liked. Whatever, it was a great comparison piece.

5. Is this the best column ever? Yes.
That column was so great.  There's nothing I enjoy more than the idea of Wheels, standing there helpless as a bunch of dudes he knows from the internet turn his column into a vehicle for their own depraved agendas.

Well, my depraved agenda, anyways.  Yours seemed pretty benign.



Your agenda Beat? Your agenda? Who's writing in to whom?

Back to the Future

Hey Wheels!

While I really don't have much to say about your hot topics other than "Yes, please!" to a new Mana game or "Sounds good" to the idea of more in-series homages, I feel like supporting the column with another letter. I'll even do my own encoding for you.


Thank you sir. Making my HTML work easier is always a great help.

Now, I'm hoping that the Secret of Mana iPhone port is more than just a cash in. I really think the best hope for future games is either downloadable titles, or some more portable titles. Legend of Mana 2 on PSP anyone?

Since we seem to be on the topic of sequels, here's a friendly challenge.  I name one series or standalone game, and you tell us what you would do if given the opportunity to make a sequel for it.  Then name a different series or standalone, and I'll try and do you one better.  How does that sound?


That sounds fantastic. In fact, now it will look like I stole the idea of my contest from you (I did not)! It's always fun to theorize about sequels for games though. Especially ones with complicated unresolved plots like the Suikoden series.

So, to pick a title off your staff bio, what would you do if given the chance to make a Chrono Trigger sequel?

Write me back some time!
Fellow columnist, Gaijin


Again, I really didn't steal my contest idea from this letter! Anyway, if I were to make a Chrono Trigger sequel, I would take a route most fans would probably not enjoy. That is to say, I would make it a non-direct sequel in a completely different world with a new cast. There would just be too much, especially with the existing sequel, to properly do a new game that could be completely understand by anyone playing it. Chrono Trigger was great for its gameplay, characters, and story, and there's just no way you can produce something classic again by just reusing the same characters. It would be best to start with a clean slate!

And I will write back at some point! Honest!

I live to serve

Thanks for answering my letter in your Q and A! I was SOOO excited, as I have never been "published" before in any kind of print. I told my wife that my letter was published on in your Q and A column that she asked ask me, and I quote: "What magazine was your letter published in again?" (Hilarious stuff).


That's funny (do magazines still exist?)! Anyway, glad to serve. I'm hear to answer reader questions , no matter what you write in about. Especially classic Sega RPGs!

 Anywho, my question to you is this:

I know the sega ages collection of phantasy star 1 and 2 remakes was also supposed to come to America at one point. Why do you think Sega passed on these versions? They look awesome and I love Phantasy star 1-4. Also, another interesting tidbit pertaining to your backlog (or lack thereof) is I have 125 Jrpg's in my collection for various systems of which I have completed maybe 20 of them, LOL Here is a pic and list of my games for your entertainment (Wheels note: didn't include pic as it wouldn't fit, but was full of awesome)

Gamer emporium


I'm not sure what ever happened to those Phantasy Star remakes coming out in the US. The most I can find is that someone else had the publishing rights (Conspiracy Entertainment) and then they were somehow reclaimed by Sega. However, clearly Sega never did anything with them. It's a shame too, as the first two Phantasy Star games really need an upgrade. Not that they've aged horribly, but in terms of gameplay they feel very out of date.

The picture is too big to fit here, but that is a fine collection! I see a lot of classic games in there. Don't worry about not finishing them all, that will just give you a long term goal! Anyway, I have to ask, why did you get Final Fantasy XIII for 360, when you have a PS3? Unless that was a purchase after it came out. I'm glad to see Wild Arms among your PS1 games. Still one of my favorite classic RPGs!

P.S. I did enter your contest for  what  Ys VIII etc. would be like (crosses fingers) as I would love those prizes you mentioned (i.e.) Radiant Historia, Tactics Ogre.


Excellent! I was worried I would only get an inbox full of Chrono Trigger sequel pitches, but you readers have really come through (even the Chrono pitches I've received have been fantastic)!


Wheels, what's the most fun you've ever had cheating in an RPG?



This is a fantastic question, considering cheats aren't used as often in RPGs. One of my favorite things to do as a kid was to use cheats in the original Diablo. I was never really able to finish it on my own (I was young, give me a break), so it was fun to just absolutely destroy everything in the game. On that same note, the cheat (OK it was more of a secret) in Diablo II to unlock the cow level was hilarious. Fighting off hordes of evil cows was a hilarious challenge. For Blizzard to actually take a crazy fan theory about there being a cow level in the first Diablo, and actually make it a reality in the sequel is not something you see too often. Blizzard has always been good about that kind of thing (I believe there was a "there is no cow level" cheat in Starcraft). There's a good reason Blizzard became so popular!


That's it for this week folks. Thanks for all the contest entries so far, I'll start responding (i.e. critiquing) them next week. Remember you guys have until the end of February to get an entry in! You're welcome to write in about anything else as well. Plenty of RPGs upcoming in the early part of this year! I mean, when was the last time we got a new game in the Ogre Battle franchise, even if it is just a remake?

'Til next time!


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What I can't wait for:

1. Ys: I&II PSP

2. Lord of Arcana (Yeah I'm shocked this is here too, some please write in and let me know I'm not alone?)

3. Tactics Ogre

4. Disgaea 4

5. Radiant Historia

On my Playlist:

1. Resonance of Fate Soundtrack

2. The World Ends With You Soundtrack

3. Donkey Kong Country Returns soundtrack

Hot Topics:

1. Does Alpha Protocol deserve a sequel?

2. Dragon Age 2 on PC looks to provide a system to switch between classic Baldur's Gate Style combat, and Action RPG combat, can this work?

3. Does the crazy complexity of the Armored Core series qualify any of the games as RPGs?

4. If Secret of Mana on the iPhone is a success, will Square-Enix revisit the Mana series?

5. Should Camelot do a new SRPG franchise, since it's unlikely they'd work with Sega again?

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